Seeking Justice for Victims in the South Bay
Despite the fact that millions of Americans are well aware of the dangers of intoxicated driving, it still occurs daily in California and across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 10,000 people were killed in crashes involving drunk drivers in California between 2005 and 2012. That's 10,000 individuals whose lives could've been spared had the involved drivers chosen to not drink or stay at home.
If you have been harmed in a drunk driving accident, you're eligible to seek justice for your pain and suffering by filing a personal injury claim against the driver for negligence. At AgnewBrusavich, our Torrance drunk driving accident lawyers have more than 100 years of collective experience righting wrongs on behalf of clients in need. We can gather important evidence and communicate with insurance companies to make sure the driver responsible for your injuries doesn't get away with their crime.
Criminal Vs. Civil Claims
As is the case in most states, it's illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs in California, and people who commit DUI offenses can face multiple consequences, including fines, jail time, and driver's license suspensions. Drivers who are arrested and found guilty of drinking and driving can be charged and penalized in court. The legal BAC in California is .08 percent, meaning any driver found to have a higher BAC can be charged with a DUI. Any driver who is under 21 can't have any measurable amount of alcohol in their system – they'll be arrested if they have a BAC of .01 and higher.
It's important to know, however, that victims of drunk driving accidents will most likely not receive monetary damages when the driver is charged. Instead, individuals and families can file a civil claim known as a personal injury claim to receive compensation for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. When a person has been killed in a drunk driving accident, their surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim to cover the costs of their funeral bills, lost income, and loss of companionship. Individuals must show that the at-fault driver demonstrated negligence (drinking and driving), and this negligence is what caused their injuries and damages.
Dangers of Drinking & Driving
Anyone who has consumed beer at a party or even a glass of wine with their dinner knows how alcohol can affect their body and mind. Alcohol slows your motor functions and clouds your judgment and ability to make decisions – these are all qualities that are extremely important for operating a vehicle. As a result, driving while under the influence greatly increases the risk of getting into an accident and injuring yourself and others. Though California's BAC threshold is .08, it's dangerous to drive with any amount of alcohol in your system.
Drunk driving can contribute to deadly accidents in the following ways:
- Reduced concentration: Drivers are required to keep their eyes and attention on the road at all times, but alcohol dramatically reduces a person's attention span. As a result, drunk drivers are more likely to have difficulty focusing on maintaining their speed, staying in their lane, and being aware of other vehicles on the road.
- Slow reaction times and lack of coordination: Alcohol slows a person's response time, meaning an impaired driver will have less time to brake or swerve to avoid a road hazard, which increases the likelihood of an accident. Alcohol can also reduce a driver's coordination and they may have difficulty locating their car's brakes, making turns, and changing lanes.
- Decreased vision: When a person drinks a lot, they may notice their vision start to blur or may see double. It can be especially dangerous, then, for a drunk driver to operate a vehicle on the road. Drivers may have trouble judging distance and not notice certain hazards or objects lying ahead.
- Inhibited judgment: Intoxicated individuals have their judgment impaired and are more likely to make risky decisions as a result. When operating a vehicle, a drunk driver is more likely to make sudden movements or lane changes without thinking, and they likely to drive over the speed limit.
Are Drunk Drivers Always Responsible for Damages?
In most drunk driving accidents, you can expect the driver to be held personally responsible for damages. However, establishing liability in any accident can be complex, and it's possible for others to hold responsibility in your unique case. If the drunk driver who caused your injuries was working at the time of the accident, for example, it may be possible that their employer can be held liable.
Though it's rare in California, dram shop laws may hold bars, restaurants, and other establishments responsible for drunk driving accidents. If a waiter or bartender is found to have served the driver while knowing they were already drunk, for instance, a victim can file a claim against them for negligence.
Because every case varies, it's important to have an experienced lawyer on your side. Our firm takes a team approach to each case we handle, meaning when you hire us, you can expect every member of our team to be updated on your case and care about your well-being.
We can seek justice on your behalf while you focus on healing. Contact our Torrance drunk driving accident lawyers at (310) 793-1400 today so we can hold the at-fault driver responsible for their actions.